Saturday, May 3, 2008

Truth and the Supremacy of Christ

Early this semester I watched a few videos put out by Focus on the Family called “The Truth Project.” It was a very biblical, logical, and interesting approach to discover the truth of the Gospel and who God is. The very first week, the speaker made a very good point that I would bet most of you don’t know, so before you read on, see if you can dig through the scripture in your brain and find the answer.

Why did Christ come into the world?
There is only one time that Jesus said “This is why I have come into the world…” When was it? What was his answer? It seems like a pretty important question right? Well lets look at the scripture.

Jesus is before Pilate who asks him “So are you King?” to which Jesus gives a remarkable response (well of course he does, he’s Jesus!) “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth.” (John 18:37)

Wow! I bet that isn’t what some of you expected. Do you see that truth as it relates to Christ is obviously fundamental to the Christian faith? There’s no going around it, Christ came into the world to testify to the truth.

The point I am trying to make is that a biblical definition of truth, and what it meant to Jesus is paramount in understanding and even believing in the Supremacy of Christ.

Postmodernism

Here’s the dictionary definition:
Any of a number of trends or movements in the arts and literature developing in the 1970s in reaction to or rejection of the dogma, principles, or practices of established modernism.

Postmodernism is a blatant rejection of the logical principles of truth and an embrace of a relativistic philosophy centered around the acceptance of uncertainty. It is the current secular humanistic view of life, and says that truth is relative and is different from person to person.

Now if you are anything like me that last sentence just confuses you to death! I mean at least pick a different word; truth could be defined as what exists outside of our minds and what doesn’t change from person to person. Naturally, truth and relativism are near antonyms. I mean, this doesn’t seem like rocket science to me (not that there is anything wrong with rocket science Eric ). Aristotle figured it out! He was not a child of God, but he through what I think is quite simple logic came to a very basic and elementary conclusion.

“'to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true

This almost needs a “duh” at the end. With the understanding that the lost will never be able to fully understand what we know is true, lets move on to the real, frankly disturbing issue at hand.

Post Modernism and the Church

Ouch. I hope it hurts you to read that as much as it made me cringe to type it. Nevertheless, it is true. The heresy of postmodernism has infiltrated church walls and is being accepted and taught by many of today’s rising figures in Christianity, including a man that is called by many “the next Billy Graham.” Yikes!

It seems contradictory from the start. How could a religion based completely on the fundamentals of what “is,” be accepted and followed by people who’s cultural worldview says “Truth is relative and can’t be known for sure?” Here’s how the Emergent (postmodern) church justifies this.

In Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis, he uses the metaphor of a trampoline. He says that the Christian life is like jumping on a trampoline, and the doctrines of the faith are like springs. Bells says that all we should focus on is jumping on the trampoline, that we spend too much time checking the springs. And what if one of these strings pops? Are we OK? Of course! The trampoline keeps propelling us upward towards God. This appealing example says that Doctrine is flexible, indefinite and not entirely important.

Now let me make something VERY clear before I explain the danger and heresy that is brought about by this picture. These springs are not “Calvinism” or “Armenianism” or “views on baptism” or “when to take communion” or ”dispensationalism.”
The book uses things such as the virgin birth, or divinity of Christ to define these springs. I’m not at all saying we should spend all day bickering over the picky things of complex doctrine that both sides of the issues have questions and concerns. That is not his analogy. On the contrary, the Emergent Church seems bent on marginalizing the essential unarguable doctrines of Christianity.

Postmodernism in the church says that like a brick wall, Christianity is solid and unmovable, but also like a brick wall, you can remove on theological brick and have the wall perfectly unmoved. This disturbs and puzzles me.

Take Barry Bonds for example. He set the all time homerun record right? 672 homeruns... I think it is safe to say that he is a fantastic baseball player, very possibly the best. He has meaning, reason, standard in the world of baseball and in the culture of America. But wait, I’m forgetting something huh... the steroids.
Barry Bonds cheated. Broke the law and the rules of baseball, and lied in court about it. I know he’s still a great baseball player, but to me, that record means nothing. I don’t care if he his 600 more, he cheated, he was fake.

Now in the exact same way, how could you EVER tell me that we can still trust and cherish the Bible as the Inspired, Inerrant, Infallible, and Authoritative Word, if it isn’t what it itself claims to be. Perfect. Again, I’m not talking little controversial issues that aren’t addressed completely in scripture; I am talking about the fundamental essential doctrines of our faith. If the Bible has lied, how can we accept it? If it has lied, we as Christians could be logically torn to bits; the bible would immediately contradict itself in so many places.
We must stand up against this uprising of heresy. Christ came to testify to the truth, and in response, we much be entirely apposed to this cowardly cave-in of Christian meaning and understanding.

How Postmodernism seeks to destroy the Supremacy of Christ

Here are 3 simple reasons why what these new theological thinkers bring to the table is completely contradictory to what we know about who God is and what he has given us and done for us.

1. It seeks to belittle and marginalize the authority and inerrancy of scripture.

To expound on what I discussed earlier, lets look at a section of Bell’s Velvet Elvis that I pulled from a pro-Emergent Church Blog.

“What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births?
What if that spring were seriously questioned? Could a person keep on jumping? Could a person still love God? Could you still be a Christian? Is the way of Jesus still the best possible way to live? Or does the whole thing fall apart?”

If you have a biblical truth-seeking understanding of scripture this should absolutely infuriate you. What a mockery of Truth! Essentially, what is being asked here is “what if the Bible was proven completely and irreversibly false? Then do we have a legitimate faith?” To which the answer is a resounding NO! Not only is this a complete butchering of the divinity of Christ (which sounds awful Gnostic to me) but it’s just downright disgusting. It reeks of disrespect for Gods holy word. Read the passage again keeping in mind the fact that God through the writers of the Gospels has told us about the complete divinity and humanity of Christ through the glory of the virgin birth. I hate it.

2. It seeks to destroy Biblical doctrine and discourage the studying of God’s word.

The Emergent Church, rather than encouraging believers to study to know who God is, encourages a hatred of theology and an embrace of the uncertain, making very clear its postmodern roots.

These leaders often promote what sounds good and happy about God above the glorious picture which the Bible paints. If God’s sovereignty means that he was in control over my friends death, let’s redefine sovereignty so we can like God more. If God’s just nature means people will go to hell, we do as Brian McLaren has and call hell “false advertising” from God, belittling his justice and making light of the rich stores of grace on the other end of the spectrum. Oh, and did you catch that? according to Emergent theology, not only is God not an author of absolute truth, but he has tricked us with falsehood.

The lack of focus on our sin, and the absence of emphasis on the Biblical nature of God fling us into a jungle of confusion and uncertainty. It’s really no wonder these leaders say that you can’t know truth; it’s impossible to match the false standards, based out of how they want God to be, to the truth of who the Glorious God of the Bible is.

Lastly and most tragically
3. It seeks to destroy the power and importance of the Gospel

This doesn’t take much explaining. I will let Brian McLaren do it for me.

“In this light, although I don't hope all Buddhists will become (cultural) Christians, I do hope all who feel so called will become Buddhist followers of Jesus; I believe they should be given that opportunity and invitation. I don't hope all Jews or Hindus will become members of the Christian religion. But I do hope all who feel so called will become Jewish or Hindu followers of Jesus...
"Ultimately, I hope that Jesus will save Buddhism, Islam, and every other religion, including the Christian religion, which often seems to need saving about as much as any other religion does. (In this context, I do wish all Christians would become followers of Jesus, but perhaps that is too much to ask. After all, I'm not doing such a hot job of it myself."

What a horrible distortion of the gospel. We all know John 14:6

‘Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ’

What is the truth? That Jesus is the only way to heaven, and that through repentance in faith we are saved through grace by the Glorious work of Jesus, who took our sins upon himself and paid our debt. This is the truth! We can stop guessing or saying that we can’t find it. There is no other name by which men are saved!

How can we not know truth? God gave us truth! He invented truth, and gave us the capacity to know it. We can rest assured in the promises of scripture and know that God is God, and he is a God of truth.


Praise God that he has created a way for us and revealed it to us!

Ryan

4 comments:

Jerry said...

Just as all others throughout history have sought to distort and attach truth, these trouble-makers too will fall to the wayside and truth will yet again prevail.

The proper response to these troubling things is to praise God for his sovereignty.

Good words Ryan

___________________________ said...

Well, I would think that the reason postmoderns redefine truth is because we live accepting things as truth that may not be true based upon our own desires regarding these things. I dislike their redefinition, but the logic is sort of seen in this Max Stirner quote.

"Truths are material, like vegetables and weeds; as to whether vegetable or weed, the decision lies in me."

Frankly, the issue isn't it is confusing so much as a justification of solipsism. The issue of "knowing something is true" though, is not the issue, the fact is that we don't know anything to be true at all, we believe things to be true, but most of our sources of knowledge provide tentative data at best. Frankly, the fact that all people of all religions "know" their faith to be true is part of where postmodernism gets its gumption from.

You can call the Emergent church to be postmodern, but be careful not to attack the Emerging church is not necessarily so bad as only 1 lane out of 4 is comprised of Rob Bells
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58fgkfS6E-0

Well, your stance on biblical inerrancy basically depends on 3 things, one, that God wrote the bible, and two, that God selected all that would be in the bible, and three that all information was transmitted through processes that would prevent degradation and all 3 depend on error free methods for biblical inerrancy to effectively be upheld. The emergents you speak of weaken all of these assumptions such that the issue is not that the Bible is a pack of lies, but rather just well-intentioned but misinformed, and inspired but not inerrant. This doesn't prevent us from trusting it partially, but it does prevent us from doing so completely. Frankly, to get more to the point, there are scholars who have argued that flaws exist in the bible by comparing it to other historical accounts, to say that the Bible must be inerrant is to say that any scholar who contradicts it must be ignored, to loosen up on it is to allow more breathing room. I don't say this to be critical, but Bart Ehrman is an example of a scholar who started off very Christian, but who lost his faith because of doubts due to contradictions in scripture and data.

Well, the issue is "definitely false". It is perhaps impossible to prove anything definitely false. Really though, it does bring up a question, how do we deal with any concern about evidence that stands against our faith? Do we dismiss it as false without question? Do we set our faith upon our arguing skills? Or do we do what the emergents do and remove a portion of our faith to make it less falsifiable?

I dunno, there is a real issue of making Christianity real to people and relating God to man, and focusing too much on one side and not the other isn't going to help a lot. Just be honest and ask how many people convert to the church rather than from.

Ryan Martin said...

Not exactly sure what you’re getting at buddy. With regards to you’re quote, this is not an issue of labeling things. I am Ryan, a drummer, a Christian, a son, a boyfriend, a brother, a member of the Martin family…. Who I am doesn’t change with what I am being described as. This quote adequately describes the folly of Postmodernism, as a rebellion against reason. Though something can be called both a weed and a vegetable, what I call it doesn’t change the TRUTH of what it is. All of this seems to me like fancy mumbo-jumbo dancing around the truth than something can exist outside of our minds or desires. The fundamental principal of truth is not saying “I’m right,” It’s saying “something’s right.” It is also the realization that two completely contradictory views cannot both be right. There IS something! And….it IS!

The inerrancy of scripture is an entirely different issue, and any blog post in which scripture is quoted could be held to the same standards as you hold this one.But to respond to your analysis… I accept your standards and believe whole heartedly (as whole heartedly as I believe in the God who gave us the word) that God wrote it through men, and has preserved it to this day.

I appreciate your comment! I hope that you can see and understand the importance of truth and the evidence of it both in our faith and in the world around us. To question it, is to question God himself; his existence is the supreme example of truth.

God bless,
Ryan

___________________________ said...

What I am getting at is the fact that the labels we create for the world are manmade constructs, and our relationship to them is a matter of personal choice/self-identity. Frankly, you could have a birth certificate saying "Ryan" but call yourself "Larry", which name would be truer? You are a drummer, but how do we define drummer? Most people have drummed some drum at least once so do where could we draw the line between a person who occasionally messes with drums and a drummer? A son, what if you made yourself a daughter, or what if you were born a hermaphrodite or even a female with lacking sexual organs and then had your sexual organs artificially created and were never told or even if you were? A boyfriend? What does that *really* mean in a world with open relationships, gay relationships, unwed coupled parents, polygamy, polygyny, and all too friendly friends? As well, the entire label of "Martin family" is arbitrary as well, as when one picks the root of the tree to call "Martin-ish" is merely a social construct as we could have started that off earlier or later, and frankly we are all members of the same family as descendents of Adam but it seems not to follow that we are all members of the Martin family. As well, there is no objective truth to something being a vegetable OR a weed, so there is NO TRUTH to a statement made about that at all. A goat's vegetable is a man's weed. One man's vegetable is another man's weed so neither category is real. All of that might just be bad overanalysis on my part but postmodernism is, to some extent, man recognizing that the labels he places upon the world are his own doing, and that they are arbitrary because they are only his categories. This is not to totally defend postmodernism, but they view the world as a word game, because they think our understanding of it is just a word game. There is no truth because the words themselves really have no meaning.

Ok, I can accept that position.

Oh, thanks. I appreciate your efforts. I would say that truth is important, but the question isn't on the truth but on the epistemology. Everybody questions, doubts, or ignores the truth because nobody has the truth, for if you had the truth then you would know the unknowable God/have the absolute perfect theology/whatever other perfection that a depraved man could never achieve.